Return of the Cafe Racers - Road Rebel 166 – Rich Richie Honda Tiger

Road Rebel 166 – Rich Richie Honda Tiger

Honda’s legendary RC166 was without a doubt an incredible achievement in engineering. Although its 250cc engine capacity may not impress some, I can assure you that its performance was awe-inspiring. The RC166 boasted 6 tiny cylinders fed by 6 individual carburetors. At the opposing side of the cylinders, 6 exhaust headers wound their way back to individual mufflers that screamed the RC166’s ear-shattering symphony. The tiny powerhouse produced an incredible 65bhp and would rev well beyond 18,000rpm. Weighing in at only 145kg and being piloted by the legendary Mike Haliwood, Honda dominated the 1966 and 1967 GP and the RC166 became a thing of legend.

These days the chance of anyone having the privilege of owning or riding an RC166 are slim to none, but that doesn’t mean you can’t dream about it. Over in central Java the crew at one Indonesian custom workshop decided to recreate the experience as best they could by building their own RC166 inspired Honda. It may not boast the same incredible performance figures as Honda’s original design, but what it lacks in power it makes up for in style.

‘Rich Richie’ Garage produce a range of motorcycle-inspired apparel along with running their own custom workshop in central Java. Inspired by classic racing machines of the sixties the RC166 project was conceived as a showpiece for their retail store and for the occasional wild ride around town. Taking 5 months to complete the bike started life as a 1998 GL200 Tiger, a 200cc Honda that’s common to Indonesia. Built entirely in-house at the Rich Richie workshop the build began by stripping away all of the Tigers original, angular bodywork to make way for some racing-inspired modifications.

After some careful measuring, plans were drawn up for the bikes RC166 inspired bodywork. The rear section of the frame was modified to accept a revised tail unit, seat and fuel tank, which were all then  handmade from steel sheets. The saddle itself was covered in local leather and the small custom canister slung beneath it holds the relocated electrics. The entire front fairing was another handmade item also made from a thin gauge, steel sheet that was designed to match the geometry of the Tiger while being as close to the RC166 fairing as possible. Vents on the sidewalls direct air in and across the engines cooling fins to maintain suitable operating temperatures and a frenched headlight renders the bike suitable for road use.

Performance wise the Tiger’s engine remains relatively untouched aside from a retuned carb, free flowing filters and the custom made exhaust system and megaphone muffler. The front end suspension also remains standard while in the rear a more suitably styled and taller pair of YSS shocks level out the bone line of the frame. With the new fairing in place the riding position also required revision. Clip on handlebars sit low on the fork tubes and a set of custom rear set footpegs position the rider’s feet and knees more appropriately.

Since the Honda Tiger utilises modern disc brakes and cast wheels the front wheel and hub from a Honda CB Dream and the rear hub from a vintage Vespa have been customised to fit, giving the bike a more period correct appearance. Finally to finish the bike off the Rich Richie team applied the RC166 inspired paint scheme and vinyl graphics adding their own branded livery. Here’s to ‘dreaming the impossible dream’!

Read more about Honda’s legendary RC166


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